caspar david freidrich witnessed death of
Friedrich’s people are often portrayed in a rapt contemplation of the mysteries of their own passion as reflected by water’s moon-struck rise and fall, extended by the passage of time and tide. His seascapes combine intimacy and grandeur in unprecedented fashion. In the surreal Two Men by the Sea, each viewer is the other’s clone.
Dolmen in the Snow: 1807
Some of Friedrich’s contemporaries attributed the melancholy in his art to these childhood events, yet it is as likely that Friedrich’s personality was naturally so inclined. As an adult, the pale and withdrawn Friedrich reinforced the popular notion of the “taciturn man from the North”. His letters, however, always contained humour and self-irony. In his autobiography, the natural philosopher Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert wrote of Friedrich, “He was indeed a strange mixture of temperament, his moods ranging from the gravest seriousness to the gayest humour … But anyone who knew only this side of Friedrich’s personality, namely his deep melancholic seriousness, only knew half the man. I have met few people who have such a gift for telling jokes and such a sense of fun as he did, providing that he was in the company of people he liked.”
Caspar David Friedrich was born the sixth of ten children in Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania, on the Baltic Sea. He grew up under the strict Lutheran creed of his father Adolf Gottlieb, a prosperous candle-maker and soap boiler. Friedrich had an early familiarity with death: his mother, Sophie Dorothea Bechly, died in 1781 when Caspar David was just seven. At the age of thirteen, Caspar David witnessed his brother, Johann Christoffer, fall through the ice of a frozen lake and drown. Some accounts suggest that Johann Christoffer succumbed while trying to rescue Caspar David, who was also in danger on the ice. His sister Elisabeth died in 1782, while a second sister, Maria, succumbed to typhus in 1791.
During this period Friedrich frequently sketched memorial monuments and sculptures for mausoleums, reflecting his obsession with death and the afterlife; he even created designs for some of the funerary art in Dresden’s cemeteries. Some of these works were lost in the fire that destroyed Munich’s Glass Palace (1931) and later in the 1945 bombing of Dresden.
During the 1930s, Friedrich’s work was used in the promotion of Nazi ideology,  which attempted to fit the Romantic artist within the nationalistic Blut und Boden.  It took decades for Friedrich’s reputation to recover from this association with Nazism. His reliance on symbolism and the fact that his work fell outside the narrow definitions of modernism contributed to his fall from favour. In 1949, art historian Kenneth Clark wrote that Friedrich “worked in the frigid technique of his time, which could hardly inspire a school of modern painting”, and suggested that the artist was trying to express in painting what is best left to poetry.   Clark’s dismissal of Friedrich reflected the damage the artist’s reputation sustained during the late 1930s. 
One of his most famous paintings, the “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” is considered an autobiographical image. Caspar David Friedrich also painted himself in such romantic poses — as a man fascinated by the supernatural beauty of nature — in other pictures. Some of them had almost religious elements.
Caspar David Friedrich was 65 when he died in Dresden on May 7, 1840. He came from a tallow boiler family in Greifswald; at that time the city by the sea belonged to Swedish Pomerania. He learned his trade at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, but the artistic impulse for his own style was gleaned at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. There, he tried out new painting techniques.
The sixth of ten children, Caspar David Friedrich was born into a strict Lutheran family. He became familiar with tragedy at an early age, losing his mother when he was seven, and two sisters to childhood illnesses. Perhaps the most impactful loss was the death of his brother, Johann, who drowned while trying to rescue the then thirteen-year-old artist when he fell through the ice.
On June 26, 1835 Friedrich suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and again limited his artistic output to drawings. Before his death in May of 1840, he suffered a second stroke and was reduced to poverty.